The International Labour Organization (ILO) told the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday that workplace closures have risen so fast that 81% of the global workforce live in countries with mandatory or recommended closures.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urged the IMF and World Bank to focus their response on "providing immediate relief to workers and enterprises to protect businesses and livelihoods, particularly in hard-hit sectors and in developing countries".

"The crisis has uncovered the huge decent work deficits that still prevail in 2020 and shown how vulnerable millions of working people are when a crisis hits," he said as part of written statements released in Geneva.

Addressing the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, Ryder said priority attention should be given to the impact on smaller enterprises, unprotected workers, and those in the informal economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Workplace closures have increased so rapidly in recent weeks that 81% of the global workforce lives in countries with mandatory or recommended closures.

"In upper-middle-income countries, this represents 87% of the workforce and 70% in high-income countries. COVID-19 is now also impacting the developing world where capacities and resources to respond to the crisis are severely constrained," said Ryder.

The ILO has also shown that working hours will decline 6.7%in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to the loss of 195 million full-time jobs.

Ryder recommended stimulating the global economy and demand for labor by using available fiscal and monetary tools and debt relief.

"Public investment in health systems would be doubly effective as a crucial contribution to beating the pandemic and creating decent jobs," he asserted.

Additionally, providing immediate assistance will help sustain enterprises, preserve jobs, and support incomes.

In this context, Ryder highlighted the need to invest in social protection measures, which can help mitigate the worst shocks of the crisis while acting as an economic stabilizer.

Further, he said, ensuring adequate protection will help support all those who continue to work during the crisis.

"That requires guarantees for safety and health in the workplace, properly designed work arrangements such as teleworking, and access to sick pay," said Ryder.

Worldwide, there are over 2.21 million cases of coronavirus with nearly 151,000 reported deaths. Over 564,500 people have now recovered from the coronavirus, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the severity of the virus, most people experience mild symptoms and recover in due time.